Riku and his family moved from Japan to California when he was 3 years old and spoke only Japanese.
We would go to the park, and he would talk to everybody in Japanese. And nobody would understand. It was a drastic change for him.
The following year, Riku’s life changed again, with a diagnosis of childhood cancer.
A scan revealed a mass on his brain, and Riku underwent a ten-hour surgery to remove the tumor for a type of brain cancer called medulloblastoma.
Riku’s doctors then referred him to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Families, like Riku's, never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.
Even after his lengthy surgery, Riku still needed additional treatment to survive, like proton therapy.
St. Jude is home to the world’s first proton beam therapy center dedicated solely to children.
We really wanted proton therapy. The proton beam could just hit the tumor and protect other tissue around the tumor.
As Riku’s treatment got underway, his parents Noriko and Jun quickly learned more about St. Jude.
They found they were included as important members of Riku’s care team.
“They worry about the smallest concern I have,” said Noriko. “They won't just brush it away. They listen to me, and I feel very secure.”
I have never seen such a great hospital. We know we can rely on St. Jude and the staff one hundred percent.
Riku responded well to treatment and has returned home.
Meet more patients